Gordon Jenkin’s paean to The Big Apple, 1946’s Manhattan Tower — which combines narration, dialogue, sound effects & mood music, along with the songs themselves — was a bold step forward, artistically speaking, for the phonographic medium. Could this be one of vinyl’s first “concept albums”? [Wikipedia cites Woody Guthrie’s Dust Bowl Ballads of 1940 as perhaps the earliest.]
On “New York’s My Home,” the album’s closing song (and B-side of single, “The Party”), the singer [Beverly Mahr] attempts to prove that all of America’s other great cities pale in comparison to Manhattan, though the shameful mispronunciation of a Chicago landmark – as “Soldier’s [sic] Field” – one might argue, reveals a certain provincial mindset on the part of the songwriter, ultimately:
[Pssst: Click the triangle above to play “New York’s My Home” by Gordon Jenkins.]
Sammy Davis, Jr. would release “New York’s My Home” as a Decca single in 1956 and see it climb to #59 on the U.S. pop chart.
Gordon Jenkins: “Crescent City Blues” Gives Birth to “Folsom Prison Blues”
From Robert Hilburn’s recent biography of The Man in Black, I learned that Johnny Cash was rather taken with Gordon Jenkins’ 1953 musical fantasy concept LP, Seven Dreams, while serving a stint with the Air Force in Germany as a radio operator. So taken, in fact, that Cash would later adapt much of the lyrical imagery in Jenkins’ “Crescent City Blues” when crafting his signature song, “Folsom Prison Blues.” In the 1970s, Cash would reach an out-of-court settlement with Jenkins over his unauthorized use of “Crescent City Blues.”